Italy’s Elderly Enjoy La Dolce Vita

The lovely lady of the house in Otranto, Puglia

La dolce vita, the sweet life, is alive and well in Italy. All ages seem to have a knack for squeezing every drop of enjoyment they can out of daily life with ease. They are a hard-working, life-loving, story-telling people. I’m convinced that it is a part of the Italian DNA. Good vibrations just keep on happening. And the most interesting thing of all is that I have noticed this in particularly among the elderly. They understand how to slow down and enjoy the simple things.

The lady of the adorable house above came out to greet me as I lingered in front to admire her vibrant flower gardens and pretty blue shutters. She spoke no English, but welcomed me with a warm smile as she put her arm around me for a photo. She was delighted to meet admirers of her little home. Neatly dressed and adorned with earrings, she was such a pleasure to meet.


In Monteleone d’Orvieto, Umbria, I had the pleasure of a chance encounter with this gentleman taking a mid-afternoon break. He had found a little place to sit on the threshold of a door. His smile warmed my heart.



The ‘men’s club of Squinzano’, in Puglia, was in full swing as I crossed the main piazza early one evening. In fact, there were three or four groups of them sitting together in circles. They grinned, smiled and waved while they continued to converse with each other. I wondered what the wives were up to, and I figured that they were probably home getting dinner made or conversing with their lady friends. As I passed through the piazza later that evening when dusk was beginning to settle in, there was not one piece of evidence that they had been there. Every chair was gone.



Tidy homes with smiling ladies at the door is a common sight in the villages. Thresholds are always neatly swept and adorned with lovely potted plants. Draperies of lace often decorate a doorway to allow the shutters to stay open on warm days. They are proud of their homes.

As I have watched and encountered the elderly in Italy, my fear of growing older has dramatically diminished. Where I tend to focus on age, they seem to embrace the quality of life. A gregarious people by nature, they are experts at making everyday life a joy and a pleasure. These elderly people aren’t watching life go by, they are engaged in living life and giving life to their friends and neighbors. I began to understand that it isn’t wealth, but health that matters in the latter years….and the ability to embrace the sweet life with a vibrant spirit.


45 thoughts on “Italy’s Elderly Enjoy La Dolce Vita

  • Beautiful post. My last trip to Italia was 1977. I know a lot has occurred since then. Inflation, bad economy, unemployment, earthquakes, misdirected politicians and perhaps worst of all, the Muslim invasion. Slowly the nation is recovering. But it had better do something about the immigration issue, because that is what is pulling Italy, as well as the rest of Europe, down. For the politicians many are afraid to speak up about it, being either internationalists or fear of being called xenophobic. But they better do something about it, and soon. Because that is the one problem that is going to bankrupt and destroy Europe, permanently and forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Lovely piece and so true. As an elderly person, I feel like wall paper in the U.S. In Italy, I feel a valued member of every community I engage with. Time to go back! Your blog is one of the few excellent travel blogs. Thank you so much for bringing me a slice of Italy.

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    • Thank you so much…I get what you mean by wall paper! I’m getting very close to the elderly stage, and I would just love to find a village here that venerates it’s elderly. They really do have it made in the latter years. I’m with you, time to go back!


      • Just a little more than an year ago, I came back to live in the US after I went back living in Italy between 2010 and 2014. It is not really as easy and romantic as presented in this article…and this is the reason why I came back. If you have family and good friends ready to welcome and spend time with you, it all great! But I found out that most of the people are very welcoming at the beginning and then, because of the severe problems the country is going through and consequentially their lives, they slowly fade away. I just had few friends and I still feel sorry when I think about all the difficulties they’re going through in a country that is now very financially and socially unstable. However Italy will always be in my heart, but I realize that it has become only a dream….

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      • I have suspected that to be true Vanda. Thank you for sharing your experience. Italy will remain in my heart, but I, too, realize that the Italy of my dreams is just that….a good part dream. But I will always love to revisit whenever I have the chance:)


  • EXCELLENT article Susan! Wonderful! I totally agree with your observations. I really feel the elderly have a nice quality of life in Italy. They are respected….family still hangs out with them and needs them and so they have a purpose. We have a men’s club in our tiny town as well…and when we were in Milano, there was a bocce court adjacent to our kids’ school where the men would play and the women would watch and chat….along with some grand-kids running around. It was a super picturesque tree-lined street complete with a flower shop and fruit stand…like something out of a movie. Loved your photos and story….. baci…e buon weekend…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ciao Diana, thank you! As you described the bocce court and women chatting on the sidelines I could clearly picture that. I wish it was like that here. But it is not…the elderly are sequestered away in nursing homes or retirement homes. So sad and unnecessary! I long for this kind of environment…I need to get me back to Italy.


  • I agree with you, older people seem to have a better life in Italy, at least in the smaller cities. In big metropolis, I am not sure they enjoy the same laid back attitude. I love the redesign you did, more magazine-y.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Life is so fascinating there specially when compared to today’s world where every moment we need stimulation of some kind. The art of slowing down is indeed a lesson we all must learn. I loved your post and your new follower.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Where I live for part of the year, in Abruzzo (central Italy) there is an older person phenomenon of ballroom dancing…In summer it is everywhere (but right throughout the year!). People my age and much much older go to these dance halls/restaurants…to dance…”Ballo di gruppo” is an Italian version of line dancing but without the cowboy boots. It is a regional, indeed national phenomenon and I am sure it keeps people young!!!


    • Thank you for sharing that! I think dancing is wonderful for these older people. I would love to be there to see them. Yes, they do stay younger than those of the same age in other countries.


  • I often meet old people when I wander through the mountain villages of Bagni di Lucca. They are always keen for a chat and invariably tell me that theirs is the most beautiful village, the best place to live, the air is better etc. I love that they love their little place in the world. That is the trick, being happy with what you have.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Add to these images the many older people who are involved in the “ballo di gruppo”…where I live for part of the eyar, in Abruzzo, there are many locations where people dance…older people…they even go to lessons. Mid-week, weekends ballo di gruppo (an Italian version of line dancing but without the cowboy boots) and ballroom dancing is happening everywhere!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad to hear this…if you happen to have any photos of them, I would love to see them. The Italian elderly fascinate me, and I am determined to embrace life as they do while I grow older. Thanks for the input!


  • I love the first photo- it is so joyous and colourful!
    I love how the elder gentlemen make an effort to look nice even though they are casually dressed. Also it seems a testament to their diet and exercise that they are still around enjoying life! Where are those same elderly men in Australia? In retirement homes or worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Beautifully written as usual Susan. I love stopping for a chat with elderly folks in Italy. I love photographing them, admiring their gardens and homes and letting them know their efforts are appreciated. I love seeing the nonni sitting outside just enjoying being together on a lovely day. Inspires me for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

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